What Are Virtual Assistants?


What are they?

A Virtual Assistant, or VA as they are commonly abbreviated to, is essentially a self-employed contractual worker that works for you remotely, often from home.


They can be hired to fill in for a particular job or work on a longer-term basis as part of your team.
Communication between the two parties will usually take place via emails, video conferencing, and phone calls.
They have seen a steady rise from the availability of fast internet connectivity around the country, and it is estimated that there are around 25,000 VA’s worldwide.

So what do they do?

Well a VA can be contracted for pretty much any task they can realistically do without needing to be in your office. To give you an idea of what the more typical roles of VA include, here are some common examples.

  • Administrative jobs. Answering emails, looking after your invoicing, general online office admin.
  • Technical work. Website building and maintaining, app building, technical advising.
  • Creative work. Designing marketing materials, running social media pages, creating social media campaigns.
  • Copy writing. Writing content for your blog – webpages – marketing materials.
If you have a job that you think could be done remotely then there is probably someone out there waiting to do it.

What are the advantages?

The advantages to a VA are numerous. I will list the main benefits to you below.

  • You are not liable for any employee related taxes, insurance or benefits.
  • Reduced logistical costs. No need to accommodate with office space, office supplies or equipment.
  • You are only paying for 100% productive work. If you only need them for an hour a week you only pay them for that hour. Once they have finished you can stop paying them.

What are the disadvantages?

Here are some of the main ones.

  • Not great for moral. Teams work well together, so having people working away from your base can damage team cohesion.
  • May not always be contactable. Most VA’s will be extremely tech savvy and unlikely to be un-contactable, but there are no guarantees that when you need them most they will be there.
  • Training can be tricky. Unless you can sit with them and show them exactly what you want them to do, issues can arise. 

Where can I find one?

There are a number of websites set up to connect businesses with VA’s taking most of the leg work out of the process for you. Just like a dating website, you get matched with a number of potential VA’s in your field of work, you check CV’s, references, and schedule interviews. Some of the larger networks are listed below.

As with many choices you have to make for your business, whether or not a VA will be appropriate for you will depend on your availability of resources and your personal preference. 

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